The Feldenkrais Method is at the leading edge of the emerging field of somatic education. Based on the work of Moshe Feldenkrais (1904 – 84) and influenced by his expertise in physics, engineering and judo, the Feldenkrais Method draws together both the science and the art of human movement. It is unique in that it is based on sound mechanical and neurological principles and yet is easily accessible through simple practical lessons.
Through its emphasis on experiential learning, the method offers a means to improve many aspects of everyday life — from sitting and walking more comfortably to performing a highly developed skill more efficiently, to easier interpersonal relations. Through exploring patterns of everyday movement, the Method encourages the discovery of new possibilities and choices. The Feldenkrais Method can be experienced in group classes in Awareness through Movement as well as in individual lessons in Functional Integration.
Awareness Through Movement
In a class in Awareness Through Movement, a teacher verbally guides a group of students through a movement sequence, without demonstrating. The students are then able to observe their own responses to the instructions. The focus is on becoming aware of particular habits and patterns – awareness is in the foreground and achievement in the background.
The lessons may begin in lying on the floor, in sitting or in standing and are organised around a specific theme, like sitting more comfortably or walking with ease. The student is directed through a slow exploration and asked to pay attention to sensory feedback. The process of exploring, then integrating feedback is the basis of all successful learning. Awareness Through Movement lessons explore everyday, as well as unusual movements, in a way that new and more efficient patterns of action can emerge.
Functional Integration is the name Feldenkrais gave to the Methods’ one to one lessons. Functional, as the aim is to function more easily in everyday life activities and Integration, as new learning experiences need to be integrated in a way which makes sense and is useful.
In a Functional Integration lesson, the teacher creates a learning experience tailored to the unique needs of the student. Through gentle touch, the student is guided to become aware of existing patterns of organisation and to explore new possibilities.